National Newsletter November 2016


++Welcome to our Newsletter, a note from our president

As the fall season is in full swing now all chapters are busy with many activities. There are lots of exciting things going on. GTT (Get Together with Technology) continues to grow across the country with up to ten active groups getting together every month to share ideas, learn new equipment, do peer mentoring and make new friends. Plus the National telephone group is very active.

CCB Mobile Eye Clinics (MEC) continue to be very busy with examining children and seniors. Results show the need is there for this model and feedback is very positive. There is strong potential for growth in this area.

Barrier Free Canada (BFC) continues to work toward removing barriers for all. Their recent newsletter contains some interesting items. CCB is working with BFC to help bring all provinces towards a barrier free environment. BFC-CSB also spent time expanding their committee in order to meet growing requests from various groups across the country to make presentations on such topics as how to become more active in lobbying for a Canadians with Disabilities Act as well as how to become more pro-active in advocating for Provincial Disabilities Rights Acts. Word has it that Nova Scotia will be presenting legislation during the fall seating for a Disabilities Act.

Towards the end of November Donna Jodhan will be giving a presentation in Ottawa, to persons who are blind and vision impaired and her presentation will focus on the essentials of advocacy and how to become more involved in lobbying for a Canadians with Disabilities Act. This presentation is being sponsored by Accessible Media Inc. and Get Together with Technology (GTT). This presentation will be held at 20 James Street Ottawa and more info will be posted to the relevant Ottawa lists in the coming weeks.

CCB continues to work with Best Medicines Coalition (BMC), and CADTH (Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health) to help ensure Canadians get the best eye care possible, help prevent blindness and equality of care across the country.
Working together with other organizations of and for the blind along with a variety of disability groups we can improve the lives of all Canadians. Check out the consultation dates with Hon. Carla Qualtrough on the government website for times in your vicinity.
Louise Gillis, National President

++The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) Supports the CCB Mobile Eye Clinic Program:

The CCB is very excited to announce that we have officially received support from The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) for our mobile eye Clinic (MEC). This is a big step forward for The MEC which has examined thousands of individuals, detected many issues with people’s eyes, and is therefore helping to prevent vision loss and promote eye health. Please read the statement below:

New Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) Position Statement on Mobile Eye Care

In October, the CAO Council gave final approval to a new position
statement on Mobile Eye Care. Prior to approval, CAO sought input from all provincial associations.

CAO supports mobile clinics for underserved populations. CAO believes all Canadians should have access to a comprehensive eye exam by a qualified optometrist. However, due to geographical, mobility, and other restrictions, not all patients are able to have an in-office visit. Mobile clinics can give underserved populations access to a comprehensive eye exam.

CCB Mobile Eye Clinic Program

The Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB) has initiated a Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) program in the provinces of Ontario and Nova Scotia. CAO has had several meetings with CCB and reviewed the program which encourages complete eye exams by an optometrist. Since the program meets the guidelines as set out in our national position statement on mobile eye care, CAO supports the model.

++Welcome New Chapters:
Please help welcome our newest chapters: CCB Peterborough Chapter (June), CCB Langley Chapter (August), and CCB GTT Nanaimo Chapter (October). We are happy to welcome you all to the CCB family!

++Early Bird Draw Winners
Congratulations to the 2017 Early Bird Draw Winners, CCB Bathurst Club and CCB Sault Ste. Marie White Cane Matinee Chapter. Both of these lucky chapters are receiving all the membership fees they have paid for the 2017 membership back.

++A Message from Your CCB Office Ladies:
Hello everyone,
A note from National’s front-end team of Casey and Becky, reminding members of the new format in which the electronic newsletters are being sent out to each active member with a valid email address on file. Emails are still bouncing back to us, so we are asking our CCB members to double check their email security features in order to receive emails from the official CCB Newsletter email account ( When in doubt, simply add the newsletter email address to your contacts list, and this should resolve the problem. If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to ask us! We can be reached, toll-free, at1-877-304-0968.
Casey and Becky
CCB National Office

++Information Session:
On Friday, September 23, the Access & Awareness NS CCB Chapter in Halifax hosted a “Barrier Free Canada/Barrier Free Nova Scotia” information session at the Halifax Central Library, introducing Donna Jodhan, Founder and Chair of Barrier Free Canada and CCB National President, Louise Gillis. The session was well attended and a great deal of information was shared by Donna on the origins and purpose of Barrier Free. A Q & A period followed. Louise also spoke about the Marakesh Treaty and its’ importance to those with print disabilities thus eliminating barriers to inclusive reading.

Many thanks to Donna and Louise for sharing all of the valuable information with us and thanks as well to the Canadian Paraplegic Association of N.S.
(CPANS), Muscular Dystrophy Atlantic and the Disabled Persons’ Commission of N.S. for assisting with accommodations to enable this session to be accessible to all.
Submitted by Pat Gates, Chair, CCB Access & Awareness NS Chapter and Co-ordinator, Barrier Free N.S.

++GTT Victoria: Meeting Invitation, Low Tech Support and Upgraded OrCam Scan and Read Device, November 2, 2016:
You’re Invited
Date: November 2, 2016
Time: 1:15 PM to 3:45 PM (note slight time change)
Where: Community Room, GVPL, Central Branch, 735 Broughton street

First Hour: Low-Tech Support
-Let us know ahead of time, and bring the gadgets you’re having trouble with, and send us your other questions so we can arrange to have skilled people in the room to assist you. For example, iDevices, PC computers and Talking Book machines.
-To RSVP, or if you have questions and can’t make a meeting, please feel free to email us at,

2nd Hour: High-Tech Hands-on Demonstration
-Barry Underwood will lead a hands-on presentation of the new features of the OrCam. This device can photograph print material and read it to you in seconds, and it can be used to identify opbjects and people in your life.
-We hope to see you there……For more info contact Albert Ruel at 250-240-2343, or email us at

++Conference Call for CCB Ontario Division:
The Ontario Division of CCB is inviting all its chapters to have a representative join an informative conference call on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 at 7:30pm.
The number for the conference call is toll-free 1-866-351-5099
Press pound (#)
Enter your conference number 189
Press pound (#)
Talk to you then.

Submitted by Gary Saxon, Co-ordinator/secretary Ontario division

In Memoriam

++Beverly Pike
Passed away after a lengthy illness at the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Centre in Grand Falls-Windsor, Beverly Judith Marion Pike, at the age of 60 years. She was a member of WPC Women’s Ministries, the Canadian Council for the Blind, and the Disabilities Association. She is predeceased by her parents, Ambrose and Hilda Canning; sisters, Madeline, Gladys, Lucy and Audrey. She leaves to mourn her husband, Wilson; and son, Ambrose (Melissa). Also left to mourn are sisters, Pearl (Wilson) Brenton, Bernice (Oliver) Stockley, and Mabel (Melvin) Ginn; two grandchildren, Sarah and Noah; and a circle of other relatives and friends. Pastor Robert Parsons conducted the funeral service on Saturday October 29, at 2pm from Windsor Pentecostal Church. Interment will follow at the Windsor Pentecostal Cemetery. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Hoskins Funeral Home in Grand Falls-Windsor.

++Curtis Tyrrell
Canadian Council of the Blind Waterloo Region Club said good-bye to Curtis George Tyrrell, a CCB Member from 1999 to 2013. Curtis retired from CCB due to ill health.
Curtis passed away peacefully at Innisfree House in Kitchener, Ontario on October 03, 2016 at the age of 69.
Curtis was the beloved son of Anita and the late Walter (1995) and loving brother to Mark, Patrick “Rick” (late Joanne) and Ginny. His many nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews will miss their favourite “Uncie”.
Curtis was a wonderful, kind and generous gentleman who always had a joke or a story for his family and fellow CCB members.
Curtis was generous to his CCB Club and assisted in sending a student to summer camp.
Curtis was so knowledgeable and eager to share information which he learned from listening to CBC radio that the CCB executive gave Curtis a time slot on the monthly agenda. Members looked forward to the latest science, medical and world news.
Canadian Council of the Blind Waterloo Region Club was honoured to have Curtis George Tyrrell as a fellow member.

++7 in 10 would choose a sighted candidate over a blind one; CNIB’s EmployAbility Campaign Calls on Employers to See Past Misconceptions

In honour of October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month, CNIB is launching an EmployAbility campaign, calling on employers to look past misconceptions about hiring people who are blind or partially sighted.

Vision loss can happen to anyone, at any age – and when it does, it can have a serious, negative impact on employment potential.

At half a million and rapidly growing, Canadians who are blind or partially sighted comprise a significant portion of the nation’s population.
Of these, over 100,000 are working age adults. The employment rate among Canadians with vision loss is strikingly low: 38 per cent versus 73 per cent for people without a disability. And approximately half of Canadians who are blind or partially sighted live on a low income of $20,000 a year or less.

According to a new Ipsos survey, 70 per cent of Canadians say, if faced with two fully qualified candidates, they would hire a sighted job candidate over a blind one. This inequity is rooted in widely held misconceptions and stigmas about the perceived abilities of people who are blind. Barriers to employment are rooted in lack of experience working with an individual with vision loss, as well as lack of understanding about how someone with vision loss performs their job.

Today, working with a colleague who is blind or partially sighted is really no different than working with anyone else. People with vision loss successfully perform a wide range of careers, including in areas such as science, law and technology.

“Advances in technology and mobility training have provided the tools and techniques for people who are blind or partially sighted, such as myself, to do the job a bit differently than our sighted peers, but every bit as effectively,” says Diane Bergeron, Executive Director, CNIB Strategic Relations and Engagement. “It’s time for employers to recognize that we are just as capable and competent as our sighted colleagues.”

CNIB’s EmployAbility campaign features a series of public service announcements challenging misconceptions about what it’s like to work with someone with vision loss. The PSAs, made possible by Government of Canada funding, feature real people who are blind playing the roles, not actors, and were produced by creatively acclaimed, internationally recognized marketing communications agency DDB Canada. Through an extensive audition process, Fred LeBlanc, a former firefighter who lost his vision in his 40s and now uses a white cane, and Shelby Travers, a public relations student who uses a guide dog, were cast in the English TV spots.

“All people face work related issues and some employers wrongly assume that those with vision loss experience more problems than the sighted,” says Dean Lee, executive creative director, DDB Canada Vancouver. “The smart and simple creative depicts common workplace challenges and plays on the expectations and preconceived notions that CNIB is trying to change.”

To view the PSAs, visit:

Can you imagine how you would do your job if you lost your vision?
Misconceptions around the abilities of people with vision loss may be rooted in a lack of experience working with an employee or colleague who is blind.
As many as eight in 10 Canadians have never worked with someone who is blind or partially sighted. Further, two in three Canadians say they don’t personally know someone who is blind or partially sighted. It’s important to note that individuals who have previous experience working with someone with vision loss show a much more positive perspective, scoring a full 10 points higher as being likely to hire the blind candidate over the sighted candidate.

Furthering the issue, Canadians are still holding onto outdated perceptions on what type of job someone with vision loss can perform. In the Ipsos survey, Canadians cited more traditional roles for people with vision loss as the top jobs this sector can perform as well as someone with good eyesight, such as massage therapist and piano tuner. Most do not believe that someone with vision loss can perform technical roles such as scientist, engineer, or machinist as well as someone with good eyesight.

Surprisingly, Millennials are by far the least positive about blind or partially sighted people’s ability to perform these jobs.

Visit ( for more information on hiring someone who is blind today.

++News from CELA:

CELA User Advisory Group: Are you interested in sharing your
experiences and providing input to improve services for the print
disabled community? CELA is now accepting applications
for its new User Advisory Group! The group will meet 6-12 times a year with the goal of informing technology decisions and overall strategy of the organization and strengthening CELA services for all. CELA is looking for input from a variety of users with a wide range of experiences and abilities.

Appointments to the Advisory Group is for a two-year term and CELA asks that those applying meet the following criteria:

-Willingness and ability to commit to the necessary time and effort
required to contribute meaningfully to the group;

-Commitment and interest in the future of CELA services, with that interest informed by personal or professional experience and an ability to balance local and regional perspectives;

-Skills and experience related to previous work with community-based and/or cultural or library projects

CELA welcomes and encourages interested CCB members, including GTT members to apply for the group by completing the application form
(found at: )
by Friday, December 2, 2016. For additional information, please email
Michael Ciccone, Executive Director at

++Governor General Awards:

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Governor General’s Literary Awards. All the winners, and their shortlisted colleagues represent the best Canadian Literature has to offer and CELA are thrilled to have so many of the award winners already in our collection. We are grateful for the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, and their on-going commitment to accessible formats. Our partnership allowed us to make the shortlist and award winners available so that CELA patrons could access these books immediately after the announcements of the nominees and winners were made public.

We are delighted that, in addition to all ten of the titles nominated
for fiction in English and French, we have many of the 2016 award winners in our collection now and more in production. Our partner BAnQ will be adding additional titles in French which will also be available to CELA patrons. Visit our website ( and social media for more titles as they
become available.

++ Changes to EI Benefits, A letter from Employment and Social Development Canada

As you may have heard, the Government of Canada is considering options to offer more flexible and inclusive support for parents and family caregivers.

The Government committed to introducing more flexible Employment Insurance (EI) maternity, parental benefits and unpaid leaves under the Canada Labour Code (CLC) to offer parents more choice, as well as more inclusive EI caregiving benefits and unpaid leaves under the CLC in order to support more Canadians who provide care to a family member. Offering Canadians additional options could better support their parental and caregiving responsibilities in ways that best fit their individual work and family situations.

To help realize these goals, we’ll be consulting with Canadians between October 6 and November 4, 2016, to gather their views on the potential changes. In particular, we are interested in hearing about Canadians’ experiences and the types of situations in which they could benefit from additional support in the form of benefits and leaves.

We invite you to participate in this consultation, and share the information in this email with your members. Through our partnership, your feedback will be invaluable as we shape and plan our policies on EI maternity, parental and caregiving benefits moving forward.

· For more information, please visit the Engagement HQ platform
· This engagement page includes survey questions, discussion forums, as well as discussion papers outlining the potential changes.
· If you haven’t already done so, feel free to also follow us on Twitter: @SocDevSoc, @Labour_ESDC and @ServiceCanada_E, and like us on Facebook: Seniors in Canada / Aînés au Canada.
We look forward to hearing your views and experiences and thank you in advance for your continued support in spreading the word about this important initiative.

Yours sincerely,
Employment and Social Development Canada

++WBU e-Bulletin and Survey
The World Blind Union has issued a new e-Bulletin full of great information. We have put it on our website, along with a survey about their mobile site

WBU October 2016 e-Bulletin and Accessing WBU Website using a Mobile Device – Survey

++Accessible Cross Country Skiing:
Ski for Light (Canada) runs a week long program for blind and visually impaired cross country skiers. Cross country skiing is a great sport for the visually impaired. We choose locations that have fairly easy terrain and well set tracks. Our next event will be held February 06 to 12, 2017 at the William Watson Lodge, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta. This is near Calgary, AB. Our deadline for registration is December 15, 2016. The cost for this event, which includes lodging and all food is $450 for skiers and $420 for guides. We encourage skiers to bring their own guide, if possible, but we do provide guides and instruction for new guides. It is good for fitness and for socializing too. We normally get people from Saskatchewan, Alberta, BC, Ontario, USA, and Norway. For more information and registration forms please go to our web page:
Submitted by: Darlene Weger,
Ski for Light (Canada)

++Safety with Style!:
Several styles and many colours to choose from!

Ice Halo, the Canadian owned and manufacturer of the innovative head band protection for sports or pleasure. Check out the new styles that now include Halo Hats at
Don’t risk losing ice time in your favourite activity – Don’t hold back your best because of that nagging fear of a nasty fall. Its lightweight, closed cell construction doesn’t make your head hot and the Velcro closures make it adjustable and secure. The choice of material and colour make it easy to find the right one for you. It’s available in team colours, and you can customize with your corporate logo. The Ice Halo is a great way to keep you or your friends and loved ones safer on the ice.

All Pro Hats have an inner vinyl lining of nitrile High Density foam (the same foam used in many Hockey Helmets) to help lessen the impact of a fall. All Halo products have been tested to Hockey helmet standards and exceed the requirements for front, sides and back impacts where padded. The toque and knitted caps have padding wrapping all around the head. The baseball and army caps have padding in the back and sides of the cap for added protection.

Lori Fry continues in her role as representative for the Blind in Canada with Ice Halo and is able to provide discounted prices to curlers or others looking for stylish head protection. Many thanks to Barbara Armstrong, President of Ice Halo for her sponsorship of the 100 Mile House Blind Curling Team and such strong support to the vision impaired and blind community of Canada.

In order to receive special reduced pricing on your order, please contact Lori at 250-395-2452 or

In the News
++This blind Apple engineer is transforming the tech world at only 22:
Apple engineer Jordyn Castor has never been one for limitations. She was born 15 weeks early, weighing just under two pounds. Her grandfather could hold her in the palm of his hand, and could even slide his wedding ring along her arm and over her shoulder.
Doctors said she had a slim chance of survival. This was Castor’s first brush with limited expectations – and also the first time she shattered them.

Castor, now 22, has been blind since birth, a result of her early delivery. But throughout childhood, her parents encouraged her to defy expectations of people with disabilities, motivating her to be adventurous, hands-on and insatiably curious.

It was that spirit that led to her interact with technology, whether it was the desktop computer her family bought when she was in second grade, or the classroom computer teachers encouraged her to use in school.

She says the adults in her life would often hand her a gadget, telling her to figure it out and show them how to use it. And she would.

“I realized then I could code on the computer to have it fulfill the tasks I wanted it to,” says Castor, whose current work focuses on enhancing features like VoiceOver for blind Apple users. “I came to realize that with my knowledge of computers and technology, I could help change the world for people with disabilities.
“I could help make technology more accessible for blind users.”

Bringing a personal perspective to Apple innovation
There’s an often overlooked component of “diversity” in workplace initiatives – the need to include the perspectives of people with disabilities.
Keeping tabs on the needs of the blind and low-vision community is a key component of Apple’s innovation in accessibility.

Castor is proof of how much that can strengthen a company.
She was a college student at Michigan State University when she was first introduced to Apple at a Minneapolis job fair in 2015.
Castor went to the gathering of employers, already knowing the tech giant would be there – and she was nervous.

“You aren’t going to know unless you try,” she thought. “You aren’t going to know unless you talk to them … so go.”

Castor told Apple reps how amazed she was by the iPad she received as a gift for her 17th birthday just a few years earlier. It raised her passion for tech to another level – mainly due to the iPad’s immediate accessibility.
“Everything just worked and was accessible just right out of the box,” Castor tells Mashable. “That was something I had never experienced before.”

Sarah Herrlinger, senior manager for global accessibility policy and initiatives at Apple, says a notable part of the company’s steps toward accessibility is its dedication to making inclusivity features standard, not specialized. This allows those features to be dually accessible – both for getting the tech to more users, as well as keeping down costs.

“[These features] show up on your device, regardless of if you are someone who needs them,” Herrlinger tells Mashable. “By being built-in, they are also free. Historically, for the blind and visually impaired community, there are additional things you have to buy or things that you have to do to be able to use technology.”

At that job fair in 2015, Castor’s passion for accessibility and Apple was evident. She was soon hired as an intern focusing on VoiceOver accessibility.
As her internship came to a close, Castor’s skills as an engineer and advocate for tech accessibility were too commanding to let go. She was hired full-time as an engineer on the accessibility design and quality team
– a group of people Castor describes as “passionate” and “dedicated.”

“I’m directly impacting the lives of the blind community,” she says of her work. “It’s incredible.”

Innovation with blind users in mind
Increased accessibility for all users is one of Apple’s driving values, under themantra “inclusion inspires innovation.”
Herrlinger says the company loves what it makes, and wants what it makes to be available to everyone. She describes the need to continuously innovate with accessibility in mind as part of Apple’s DNA.
“Accessibility is something that is never-ending,” Herrlinger says. “It isn’t something where you just do it once, check that box and then move on to do other things.”

And it’s a dedication that isn’t going unnoticed by the blind community.
On July 4, Apple was the recipient of the American Council of the Blind’s Robert S. Bray Award for the company’s strides in accessibility and continued dedication to inclusion-based innovation for blind users.
The company, for example, made the first touchscreen device accessible to the blind via VoiceOver. Recent announcements of Siri coming to Mac this fall, and of newer innovations, like a magnifying glass feature for low-vision users, have continued the promise of improving the Apple experience for those who are blind and low vision.
“The fact that we take the time to innovate in these ways is something new and different,” Herrlinger says. “It was not the expected thing in the tech community.”

Often, the success of such innovations depends on the input of the community – and employees like Castor provide irreplaceable first-hand insight into the tech experience for blind individuals.
The most recent example of community-driven innovation can be found on the Apple Watch. During a meeting, Herrlinger explains, a person who sees could easily peer down at their watch to keep an eye on the clock. A person who is blind, however, hasn’t had a way to tell time without VoiceOver.
After confronting the conundrum, Apple solved the issue by making a feature that tells time through vibrations. The addition, Herrlinger says, is coming to watchOS 3 this fall.

High-tech meets low-tech
Castor says her own success – and her career – hinges on two things: technology and Braille. That may sound strange to many people, even to some who are blind and visually impaired.

Braille and new tech are often depicted as at odds with one another, with Braille literacy rates decreasing as the presence of tech increases.
But many activists argue that Braille literacy is the key to employment and stable livelihood for blind individuals. With more than 70% of blind people lacking employment, the majority of those who are employed – an estimated 80% – have something in common: They read Braille.
For Castor, Braille is crucial to her innovative work at Apple- and she insists tech is complementary to Braille, not a replacement.

“I use a Braille display every time I write a piece of code,” she says.
“Braille allows me to know what the code feels like.”
In coding, she uses a combination of Nemeth Braille – or “math Braille” – and Alphabetic Braille. Castor even says that with the heavy presence of tech in her life, she still prefers to read meeting agendas in Braille.
“I can see grammar. I can see punctuation. I can see how things are spelled and how things are written out,” she says.

The technologies that Apple creates support her love of Braille, too – there are various modifications, like Braille displays that can to plug into devices, to help her code and communicate. But Castor also often forgoes Braille displays, solely using VoiceOver to navigate her devices and read screens.
That autonomy of choice in accessibility, Apple says, is intentional. The company believes that the ability to choose – to have several tools at a user’s disposal, whenever they want them – is key to its accessibility values.

Giving back to the community
Last week, Castor attended a conference hosted by the National Federation of the Blind, where she gave a speech telling her story. She says the impact that Apple has had on the blind community was extremely clear as soon as she stepped into the conference hall – just by listening to what was going on around her.
“When I walk through the convention, I hear VoiceOver everywhere,” she says… “Being able to give back through something that so many people use is amazing.”
Castor was recently able to use her presence and perspective at Apple to give back to a part of the community she’s especially passionate about – the next generation of engineers.

She was a driving force behind accessibility on Apple’s soon-to-be released Swift Playgrounds, an intro-to-coding program geared toward children. She’s been working to make the program accessible to blind children, who have been waiting a long time for the tool, she says.
“I would constantly get Facebook messages from so many parents of blind children, saying, ‘My child wants to code so badly. Do you know of a way that they can do it”‘” Castor says. “Now, when it’s released, I can say, ‘Absolutely, absolutely they can start coding.'”

Castor says working on Swift Playgrounds has been an empowering experience, and her team has deeply valued her perspective on the VoiceOver experience for blind users.
She says the task-based, interactive app would have made a massive impact on her as a child. The program is, after all, a guided way of taking tech and figuring out what makes it tick – a virtual version of the hands-on curiosity adults instilled in her as a child.
“It will allow children to dive into code,” she says of the program.
“They can use Swift Playgrounds right away out of the box; no modifications.
Just turn on VoiceOver and be able to start coding.”

As someone who was always encouraged to challenge expectations, Castor says she has one simple message for the next generation of blind coders, like the children who will sit down with Swift Playgrounds in the fall.
“Blindness does not define you,” she says. “Its part of who you are as a person, as a characteristic – but it does not define you or what you can do in life.”

Don’t forget!
++2016 Tax receipts
If you have donations coming in that you and your donators want 2016 tax receipts for we have to receive them BEFORE December 31, 2016. Any money received in 2017 will be receipted for 2017. Thank you.
++Rebate Deadline
The Deadline to receive your membership rebate is fast approaching. Please have your membership package to the National Office by December 4, 2016.